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'Combat Boots to Business Suits' to Kick Off Campaign in Greenwich

A new organization in Connecticut is designed to support US military veterans return to civilian life with grants to start new business ventures.

State Rep. Fred Camillo (R-151). Patch file photo.
State Rep. Fred Camillo (R-151). Patch file photo.

For veterans returning from overseas tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, there are many challenges to acclimating to civilian life.

And the Connecticut Business Development for Veterans, (BDV) a nonprofit agency founded last fall, says many of the more than 25,000 veterans who have returned from Afghanistan and Iraq need help in getting their feet back on the ground and acclimated to life back home, said the group's Executive Director state Rep. Fred Camillo (R-151).

BDV is a national organization that raises private donations and awards financial grants to entrepreneurs who has served their country in uniform. By melding capital with experience, BDV provides veterans with the basic needs of building a new opportunity. BDV places particular emphasis on supporting businesses that hire unemployed veterans and others who have been seeking employment.

The Connecticut Business Development for Veterans (BDV) is a nonprofit agency that provides career, financial and medical counseling, as well as financial grants to veterans who need help in returning to the work world, 

The BDV will hold their Fairfield County Launch with a benefit on Feb. 27, from 7 to 10 p.m., at the C. Parker Gallery at 17 W. Putnam Ave. in Greenwich. The emcee is WABC-Channel 7 meteorologist Bill Evans of Old Greenwich, who will kick off the event that will include cocktails, silent auction and music by The Head Rattlers.  “Combat Boots to Business Suits” is a financial assistance program for Connecticut veterans starting their own business venture.

The Connecticut chapter of BVD was created by Roberta Bryant, a daughter of a U.S. Marine, who saw the need for practical hands on guidance for veterans eager to pursue new careers as entrepreneurs. Bryant operates her own community relations and fundraising company in Glastonbury.

“Those who serve our state and nation deserve the chance to create opportunity for themselves,” said Camillo. “We want to demonstrate to those who defended our freedoms that we are ready to stand with them as they enter a new phase in their lives.”

Camillo explained that veterans in the program will receive three years of oversight to ensure they are successful in their endeavors. "We're the only agency that will provide grants — they're not loans — that don't have to be repaid," said Camillo. 

BDV, also provides technical assistance through the Glastonbury-based SCORE program and Wells Fargo Bank. SCORE is a national nonprofit organization that works closely with the Small Business Administration. Their volunteers come from a wide spectrum of industries and offer small business owners free business training, counseling and workshops.

The first workshop will be held in June with representatives from different industries and employment fields and offer personal finance counseling. "A lot of them have been out of the loop about personal finance," Camillo said. 

BDV plans to become a nationwide agency. "We are working on plans to establish a chapter in Texas soon." 

Camillo said there's strong community support for the group with local businesses who are donating food and beverages for the Feb. 27 event, including wine Wise of Greenwich, Pepsico and Libby Coverly Cooke.

For more information about the organization — either to donate or a veteran seeking their services — log onto the web site bdv.org or email Camillo at a.camillo@BDV.org

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